IT’S a tedious process but chances of Mac Belo being added in the Gilas Pilipinas lineup to the Southeast Asian Games remains a possibility.
National coach Chot Reyes broached out the idea Saturday in the light of concrete plans to have big men Carl Byran Cruz and Christian Stanhardinger play one after the other in both the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon and the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The FIBA Asia showcase is slated Aug. 8 to 20, while the SEA Games will be played from Aug. 18 to 30.
The two would be put in a very tight situation should the national team go deep into its campaign in Lebanon. A semifinal stint, much more, playing in the finals, meant Cruz and Standhardinger are likely to miss Gilas’ first game in Kuala Lumpur against rival Thailand on August 19.
“Our intent is to have Mac Belo take the place of CBC sa Southeast Asian Games lineup primarily because there’s a chance that we’re gonna make it in Kuala Lumpur,” said Reyes during the Gilas team presentation on Saturday at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas.
The Gilas coach stressed altering the lineup for the SEA Games is possible, saying under the rules of the biennial meet changing players are allowed at least until the night before the formal competition kicks off.
“Actually puwede, pero it’s no guarantee because that will be determined in the team managers’ meeting the night before,” said Reyes. “There has to be a very good reason or a very good excuse, so that s going to depend on boss Butch (Antonio).”
But it’s not that easy.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios said unlike in major FIBA tournaments where a change in a team’s lineup only meant paying a certain replacement fee, in the SEA Games its entirely different.
“Ang pagpapalit ng lineup sa SEA Games, hindi ganun kasimple yun,” said the long-time cage executive. “Sa SEA Games, medyo discretionary on the part of the organizers. Kahit gusto mong palitan, kung hindi papayagan, hindi talaga papayagan.”